Showing posts with label organic gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic gardening. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Excellent Advice for a Balcony Gardener: What You Need Know!

I love to garden, it's not secret!  But, and this is a big BUT,  gardening on a balcony is totally different than growing your garden on level soil!  Let's review some of the differences.

At some point in everyone's life, they must re-evaluate what is important in their lives.  So it came to pass with my husband and I.  We have lived in the same home for almost 40 years and the daily upkeep of the gardens, grass and the household was becoming arduous to say the least.

We started looking for ways to make our lives easier and less strenuous on our bodies.  Apartment/Condo living was looming before us.  Neither one of us could do the stairs well any longer.  So to that end, we made the decision that many find difficult!  We gave up our primary residence for an apartment.
                                                     https://pixabay.com/en/home-facade-architecture-barcelona-964537/


So What's So New About That?

Well anyone who knows me, knows that I can garden from morning till evening without stop.  What will I do when there is no longer a patch of ground that needs my attention?  Truly I was a little distressed at the upcoming move.  But, at this point I am here to tell you that so far I have survived without having the time to weep over the weeds, mourn the loss of the dirt, or sympathize over the lack of sore muscles after having over done the weeding in the first weeks of May.  


Let's Review What Can be Done 18 Stories up in the Air!


Reviewing what I can do in my new space has given me a new direction for my gardening abilities or lack thereof.  Well let's just agree that my gardening skills 18 stories up in the air have not been tested yet.  One thing is certain, after only two weeks in my new surroundings, I know that my gardening efforts will be different.  No Question About IT!

There are a list of things that you need to know about your new surroundings!

  1. You need to know which direction you face.  Is your apartment facing north, south, east or west or a combination of those.
  2. You need to know if your growing zone has changed.  That will depend on how far away you have moved.
  3. You need to know what is allowed and what is forbidden as far as growing things on your balcony. (This assumes that you do indeed have a balcony)
  4. Then you need to decide what you absolutely have to grow, like tomatoes or cucumbers or beans.
  5. Now you need to do some research.  What will grow well in pots and how big do those pots need to be?

When you have reviewed those answers then you can make some decisions.  


I am blessed in that our apartment faces south, so sunlight is abundant, but not overwhelming.  Having an overhang helps to keep the balcony sunny but it does not become an oven, even in the heat of the day.
So for my particular circumstances, I will be able to grow tomatoes, peppers, beans and more.  What I need now is a way to grow all of these without loosing so much space that there is nowhere to go out and enjoy the view.  
                                                                        https://pixabay.com/en/fordon-slope-view-residential-area-904300/


Vertical Gardening

I have found the answer to my prayers.  The biggest new fad in gardening seems to be making the most of the space you have available.  That for me is a blessing.  My space has diminished by at least 50% and of that 50% I want to be able to sit and enjoy my surroundings.  So my actual space is quite a bit less than I had before.

When you can't grow wide, you need to grow tall.  Use the space in the air for everything that you don't have space for in the ground. It makes a whole lot of sense really.

My old garden was probably about 20 feet by 35 feet.  My balcony is about 20 feet by 6 feet.  So my choices in ways to garden have been severely changed.  I will grow flowers to make my soul happy in balcony planters which are allowed in my building.  Having two already, I will increase that number to six within the next few weeks. Then for my vegetables I have decided to go with a vertical garden that also combines the ability to compost.




These choices that I show you here, don't allow you to grow in abundance, but will be great for herbs, some smaller flowers and just the ability to get your hands dirty.  For me this would be just a tease.  For many gardeners though, this would be enough to keep them happy.

Is it enough for me?


For my own purposes and for my joy of gardening I have gone the whole nine yards(no puns intended).  My choice is a little expensive, but offers me the ability to grow many vegetables, herbs and flowers in one place. It also offers the ability to compost all my kitchen scraps and have a vermi-culture happening all at the same time.  For myself it is a win-win proposition.  I didn't have to think about it for too long.   I'm talking about the Grow Tower 2.  I saw an ad for this unit and researched it further.  I am convinced that it will be my new favorite growing station all in one place.


This unit is my newest addition to my balcony since moving two weeks ago......and here's a link for you to see why I think this is going to be one heck of a great addition to my living space. Garden Tower  Project will let you see why I'm so excited to be gardening in this totally new way. I can control the plants I want to grow.  I can use the composted material to naturally feed my plants and I can see that there have been no pesticides in use too.  All natural and good for us is the way I want to garden and I will do so in a very limited space.  I'm looking forward to this new escapade and will keep you all in the loop.

Stay tuned! 

I promise to keep you updated on the results of my new foray into the world of gardening in a limited space and let you see my pictures of the Garden Tower Project so you can review the changes as they occur on my own balcony in a zone 6a growing area.  Maybe this Review will help you to make the leap into vertical gardening and have you enjoying the fruits of your own labor too!





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Monday, October 13, 2014

Recommended Reading for Small Space Gardeners

I am so excited that I can barely contain myself.   I have found something that I have to share with you.  I have found a nifty little magazine called Urban Farm: Sustainable City Living.  I am especially happy to have found this issue as the nights grow cold and the leaves begin to change in the mid-Atlantic.  Summer and gardening have begun to draw to a close.

All You Need wooden sign
Some of you are aware that I am a country girl, living in an urban (suburban) setting.  A few of you
are also aware that I try to grow a vegetable garden on my balcony and in my kitchen garden.  I'm not very good at it, but I've done great with tomatoes for two years in a row, and am currently having a great time finding uses for my sweet mint, rosemary, and jalepeno peppers.  

Over the decades, I have purchased many gardening magazines and how-to books.  Mother Earth News has been one of my favorite magazines.  But many times, with those magazines and books, I have had to read the articles and imagine the day that I own my own home again so that I can follow through with the things I've learned.  After all, no matter how much I plan and scheme, I cannot devise a way to raise chickens in my third floor apartment.

Imagine my happiness when I found this magazine that is dedicated to  folks who live in limited space but want a more self-reliant lifestyle.  

I purchased the September/October 2014 issue of the Urban Farm.  Some of the titles include:

  • Framing Out the Cold (small cold frames)
  • Storage Wards (storing your harvest without a root cellar)
  • Behind the Scenes Inside the Hive
  • A Dry Idea (how to dry and preserve tomatoes)
  • Wild Gardens (a foraging garden with wild edibles)
  • Shared Spaces (the urban farm movement)

Photograph by Ken Scicluna
All of the articles have been informative and interesting. I was especially drawn to the small cold frames article.  While I dream of own my own larger greenhouse, such as the one Diana Wenzel shows us how to Do-It-Yourself in her article, I have to deal with my reality.  And my reality is that I have a 9' x 5' balcony and one good but small space at my kitchen window for gardening.  I also live in Maryland.  I have a longer growing season than I had when I lived in northern Indiana, but it's still not as long as I would like.

The article in Urban Farmer shows "farmers" like myself how to use cold frames to make microclimates to extend the growing season.  While I've known about cold frames for years, I always imagine the large hoop style that commercial nurseries use.  There is one photograph in the Urban Farm article that shows a small cold frame insulated in snow with a single light bulb for additional heat and light. The remainder of the article and photographs already have me imagining and planning for my own cold frame on my balcony.  Extending my growing season has just become my new reality.  You can bet good money that I'll be out there before the end of the week, starting some sort of mini-cold frame.

If you are a gardener, no matter the space available to you - acres or inches - I highly recommend that you check  out this nifty little magazine.  Either at the bookstore or at Urban Farm Online.


Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.   I am in no way affiliated with Urban Farm magazine nor do I profit from it's sales.  



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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cultivating Green



Window Farm Photo by Josh Kalish
In a world of constant change, there are some things that remain with us over the course of our lives.  In my case, two of those enduring things, which aren’t really things at all, are a love for words and farming.  Since I was a young girl, I have had an abiding need for planting words and seeds.

Though I live in the country now, that wasn’t always the case.  For much of my life I lived in some of the largest urban centers in our country (Chicago, Houston, and San Antonio).  I never imagined living or thriving while surrounded by vast acres of concrete.  It seems one does adapt when necessary.

As Squidoo’s Green Living Contributor, I often receive comments on my articles from those who yearn to live as I do—off the grid, in the country, surrounded by wide, open spaces.  I often hear it said that it isn’t possible to live green at the moment.  Sometimes it is a matter of needing to be near family or work.  These green yearning souls have set their own longings aside, having deferred their dreams (perhaps indefinitely).

What I have learned, though, is that urban farming is not only entirely possible, it is a hugely popular phenomenon that could ultimately be one of the most important movements of our generation.  Without much more than eight square feet of light, these city dwellers, known as “window farmers,” have found a way to cultivate their green (both an inner and outer greening).

This week, as I read Paradise Lot, a book about two plant geeks who converted a desolate city space into an abundantly thriving garden of Eden, I thought of others who have created their own means of cultivating green wherever they happen to dwell.

My friend Dawn Rae shows you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.  She gardens in a big city apartment. LindaJM presents the possibilities of Window Farming 101.  Kari Spencer, of the Micro Farm Project, demonstrates how she turned her small urban yard into a true showcase.

As I sit here by the window tapping away on my laptop, nurturing little wordlings, still just tiny sprouts, I am cultivating the kind of green that makes my life a garden paradise.  How will you cultivate your green today? 



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